Canadian medical authorities revoked the license of a fertility doctor who inseminated at least 11 women with his own sperm and used the incorrect sperm to impregnate between 50 and 100 patients.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said that Dr. Norman Barwin, 80, is “incompetent,” and that his actions were “beyond reprehensible.”
The claims against Barwin, who worked at Ottawa General Hospital and an Ottawa clinic, span years, with some going back to the 1970s. He has not practiced since 2014, but during the hearing, which Barwin did not attend, Dr. Steven Bodley from the College said that it was “unfortunate” that the only action they could take against Barwin was to take away his license and impose a fine of $10,370 CAD.
“You betrayed [the trust of your patients] and by your actions deeply affected individuals and their families and caused irreparable damage that will span generations,” Bodley said, according to the BBC.
The regulatory board started investigating Barwin in 2016, the year after the daughter of one of his patients decided to look into her genealogy. That patient learned that her second cousin was a relative of Barwin, and further testing, confirmed by the doctor, found that he was her father.
Barwin claimed that “the only occasion he had used his own semen was when he was calibrating an automatic sperm counter,” and his sperm must have gotten mixed up with the donor sperm, NBC News reported.
But the patient continued her research and found a woman who was searching for answers about her daughter’s genealogy. The daughter, born in 1990, oddly had celiac disease, even though she and her husband did not. The first woman found that she and the daughter were half siblings, and that Barwin had again used his own sperm and is the father to both women.
They have since found nine other people who were born using Barwin’s sperm.
One woman, who thought Barwin was inseminating her with her husband’s sperm but used his own instead, said that she “felt violated — dirty — almost as if I had been raped,” after learning the truth, the BBC reported.
A father affected by Barwin said that learning he was not biologically related to his children was “a quadruple punch in the gut.”
“Imagine the slow torture of watching my children grow up looking less and less like me,” he said.
Barwin was temporarily suspended in 2013 by the College after he used the wrong sperm to inseminate three people. He was then accused in 2016 of impregnating 11 women with his own sperm and 50 to 100 people with the wrong sperm, which led to this latest investigation. He has not been tried in civil court.
“Your actions have been beyond reprehensible,” Bodley said of Barwin, to his lawyer, according to the Ottawa Citizen. “Your patients represent a group who were vulnerable and who placed themselves and their families completely in your trust. You betrayed that trust and by your actions deeply affected individuals and their families and caused irreparable damage that will span generations.”
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